A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the masters house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his masters house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.” The pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the masters house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the Pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my masters table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Fathers table. In Gods great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don’t be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength
Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini is thought by many to have been history’s greatest exponent of his art. As he swept through Europe in the early 1800’s his fame was something like that of Beatlemania! His skills were so great that it was whispered he gained his ability from a pact with the devil.
It is said that one evening Paganini was performing before a packed house. As he embarked on the final piece one of the strings on his violin snapped. Undeterred Paganini kept playing. A few moments later, a second string snapped. Again Paganini kept going, now reduced to playing a classical masterpiece on just two strings. And then the unbelievable – a third string snapped. Yet Paganini kept going, finishing the piece on just one string. So brilliant was his performance that the crowd rose to their feet to give him a standing ovation.
Yet Paginini was not finished. There was the encore to come. Raising his violin above his head Paginini called to the audience “Paganini, and one string!” With that the orchestra struck up and Paginini completed his encore on just one string.
Application: Paginini was playing a magnificent but eventually flawed violin that night. Yet even with three strings broken the master musician was able to extract beautiful music from it. You and I are like flawed instruments in the hand of God, yet no matter how flawed and broken, God is still able to weave beautiful, graceful things through us when we give ourselves to serving him and others.
Source: Information from Paginini website and “Sermon Notes”
What sort of person does God use? Imagine a group of people gathered before you. You need to select from among them those most likely to play a pivotal role in God’s plans for humanity. They are so at ease with you that they open up and share their darkest secrets. One tells you that after a night of heavy drinking he was sexually abused by one of his own sons. Another confesses that he gave his wife to another man to sleep with. Yet another plotted with his mistress to kill her husband. Another murdered a man and is still on the run from the law. One is a prostitute. Another has a lifestyle marked by violence – he even killed people to impress a girlfriend and his prospective father-in-law. Yet another confesses that he cheated his brother out of his inheritance.
Could you use them? I hope so, for they are the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11. Noah is the man who got drunk and was sexually abused; Abraham is the man who gave his wife to sleep with another; David is the one who plotted to have his mistress’ husband killed. Moses is the one who murdered an Egyptian and was never brought to account for it. Rahab was the prostitute. Samson is the man whose life was marked by violence and who killed to impress his girlfriend. Jacob is the person who cheated his brother out of his inheritance.
Scripture shows that God uses very flawed people indeed!
Source: Scott Higgins
David Livingstone is renowned as one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He was among the first to explore Africa, driven by a passionate desire to end the slave trade. Livingstone was convinced that by opening up the continent he could expose slavery for the evil it was. When he died he was beloved in both Africa and England. His heart was buried in Africa and his body returned to England, where he was given a hero’s funeral. The gravestone read “brought by faithful hand over land and sea, David Livingstone: missionary, traveller, philanthropist. For thirty years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelise the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets and abolish the slave trade.”
Yet it is easy to focus on Livingstone the “saint” without recognising that he was an ordinary human being facing normal human struggles. Before he found his life’s work Livingstone met with a lot of “dead ends”. He initially entered medical college in response to a call for medical missionaries to China, but by the time his training was complete the Opium Wars had begun and the door to China was closed. He then settled on South Africa, having met a missionary already at work there, Robert Moffat. Moffat had a mission station 600 miles north of Capetown, and had told Livingstone that it glowed in the morning sun with “the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary had been before.” Unfortunately, when Livingstone arrived he discovered Moffat had been exaggerating. Rather than the smoke of a thousand villages Moffat had less than 40 converts, of whom half had returned to their pre-Christian ways, and the surrounding countryside was destitute of people.
Disillusioned with Moffat’s mission station Livingstone then set out to establish his own missionary work. Over the course of ten years he established a strong of mission stations, but had only one convert, who eventually returned to paganism.
This caused Livingstone to rethink his vocation, and it was only after all these setbacks that he finally embarked on his great journeys of exploration.
Not only did Livingstone face many setbacks before finding his vocation, he also suffered many character defects. While he loved the native Africans and got along well with them, he found it almost impossible to get along with his fellow Europeans. He fought with fellow missionaries, fellow explorers, assistants, and even his brother Charles. He held grudges for years, could explode with rage and later in life had a serious falling out and parting of the ways with his original mission organisation, the London Missionary Society.
Application: Livingstone reminds us that God’s work is carried out by ordinary people, not “supersaints.”
Application: . Livingstone’s story reminds us that we move into the future one step at a time, that where we will end up is often unclear, that there may be many detours along the way, but that if we are faithful God will take us and use us.